Day 1 Arrival in Quito!
We left Newark in the morning and arrived to Quito in mid-afternoon. We were received in the airport by our guide, Rafael. This really cheerful Ecuadorian that owns the company we hired for our tour: EC Travel. We arrived to the hotel: Café Cultura. This was hotel was everything we wanted, each room painted and decorated stylishly and individually.
After checking in and having a nice shower, Rafael picked us up for our night tour. The Old town is a magical place indeed. First we visited the Basilica church, this barroc style church beautifully lit that gives you the feeling of being in Notre Dame (but quite smaller).
It was really cool to see that instead of Gargoyles the piles had local animals like dolphins and turtles. Of course at night we could not appreciate them much. We then headed to the Plaza Grande, Plaza de San Francisco and La Ronda neighborhood. I must say that it gives you the feeling of going back in time, and I really enjoyed La Ronda, it is a small neighborhood where apparently bohemian singers and poets hanged on the old days.
We were heading back to the hotel when Rafael told us he wanted to invite us for dinner at a traditional restaurant in town. We went to La Ronda restaurant where live music plays and random dance shows happen throughout the night. It was a very nice place but we did not like the noise on our dinner, nevertheless it was a great time to get to know each other and to hear all this crazy stories on how Ecuador works! We got back to Café Cultura afterwards.
Day 2 – Quito and Mitad del Mundo
Breakfast was great at Café Cultura, we left early in the morning because Rafael wanted to catch the early movement at the local fruit market. In Ecuador they have an incredible amount of fruits! It was a great time in this market as there were no other tourists around, our guide helped us choose and buy different fruits for us to try and we ended up taking like 10 different fruits to try during the day! The sales ladies where very friendly and kind with us, sometimes giving us some fruits to try for free!
We left for Mitad del Mundo afterwards, we did not care much about this monument to be honest. We came in and took this really cool photo with the Equator and left right away.
We visited the Intiman museum and that was very very pleasant. Here we did some experiments that allegedly occur only when you are on the Equator. One of our personal favorites was to watch as the water runs clock wise on one side of the line, vertical on top of the line and counter clock wise on the other side! John and I were breaking our heads on whether this was a trick or not but it sure was a fun time. Another really funny thing was to balance an egg in the head of a nail, apparently this is easier here because of the gravity pull being perpendicular over the equator.
We went back to the Old Town and were shocked on how different it was from our night visit. Very lively full of Ecuadorians but a bit messy for my taste; however the highlight of this part was the visit to La Compania church.
Apparently this one is considered to be one of the best and most beautiful churches to visit in all of south America. It is absolutely majestic (too bad pictures are forbidden) but imagine going into this atrium all covered in gold leaf entirely carved by hand…it is absolutely breathtaking. We wrapped the day as we were very tired. Next stop Otavalo!